Michigan wants Toronto’s garbage trucks stopped at border

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DETROIT, Mich. — Michigan is trying to stop the trucks from taking Toronto’s trash across the border.

Two bills are being introduced in the state House of Representatives today – one bans beverage containers from landfills, and the other requires out-of-state trash to meet the same standards as Michigan’s garbage.

“The state of Michigan is known as the Great Lakes State. We don’t want to be known as the Great Waste State,” Democratic Representative Paul Gielegham, a sponsor of the bills, says in a newspaper report.

And in Washington on Monday, Michigan Congressman, Mike Rogers introduced a bill in Congress that would give states the right to rejected imported garbage.

Toronto started sending 130 truckloads of garbage per day to a landfill 40 kilometres southwest of Detroit on Jan. 1, when the Keele Valley landfill site closed.

A spokes person for the Congressman says Michigan has both environmental and conservation issues with receiving Toronto’s trash, and these are key exceptions to cross-border garbage flow under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

State representatives say there’s also a health issue because toxins in motor oils and batteries are banned in Michigan, and it’s receiving garbage from other states that have no regulations in this area.

While the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have ruled that garbage is subject to interstate commerce rules allowing free flow across borders, Rep. Gielegham notes the court included a proviso that it might decide differently if there is a health issue involved.

Gielegham says Michigan’s anti-trash bills are getting support from both sides of the state House of Representatives but he’s gearing up for “a long fight” because “there are deep pockets in the waste industry.”

On this side of the border, 12 southwestern Ontario municipalities are trying to get the province to force Toronto to solve to its own garbage problem, including recycling and having a back-up plan if Michigan is successful in stopping trash at the border.

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